After making a meat delivery to Truckee yesterday afternoon, we had time to drive north on Highway 89 to the Kyberz Flat Interpretive Area on the Tahoe National Forest. This area, east of Highway 89 and north of Stampede Reservoir, is adjacent to the old Henness Pass Road, one of the primary immigrant and freight routes through our part of the Sierra Nevada during the gold rush and the Comstock mining era. Petroglyphs left by the Washoe people suggest that the area was important long before Europeans arrived.
Our main reason for going to Kyberz Flat was to see the restored Basque oven at what had once been the Wheeler Sheep Camp. The Wheeler Sheep Company, from Reno, used the camp as the hub of its summer operations. At one time, the camp included a cabin, corrals, barns, a chicken coop, and developed springs (the remains of which are still evident). In the 1990s, the director of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, led efforts to restore the brick oven at the camp. The ovens were used to bake bread for the sheepherders who worked for Wheeler Sheep Company. Every five days, according to the sign at the site, the camptender would bring the herders fresh-baked bread from the oven.
Looking out over Kyberz Meadow, I could hear the echoes of ewes calling to their lambs, of herders calling to each other and to their dogs. As a modern-day shepherd, the idea of a summer spent in the mountains without moving electric fence is quite appealing, as is the idea of moving an entire flock to the mountains on foot.
I seem to have an ever-growing list of projects here at home (repairing fences, re-doing our wood/tool shed, etc.). After our "field trip" yesterday, I've added the construction of a brick oven to the list!